Posted on

germinating cannabis seeds in paper towel v media

The Paper Towel Method

Arthur Scott invented paper towel in 1907; Julius Petri invented the petri dish in 1887. Long before that, cannabis evolved to germinate on the ground. Like Confucius says, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

Germinating seeds in paper towel or a petri dish is a lot of work. It feels really important, like major surgery. But like a heart transplant, there a lot of complications that can arise in the process. Timing and transplant must be precise. Minor mistakes or delay cause the tender first shoot to die from breakage, damping off (mold) or drying out.

In skilled hands, the paper towel method might be more effective than nature. Check paper towel and petri dishes frequently; adjust moisture levels as needed. Transplant germinated seeds to the grow medium carefully, with tweezers. A long, overdeveloped radicle is more likely to break during the procedure, so don’t delay.

Seeds are protected when they are planted into their “forever home” on day 1. This hands-off approach eliminates breakage and damping off. Mold is unlikely to kill direct-sown seedlings. A well-aerated grow medium resists both over and under watering.

Paper towel and petri dish germination does make for great pictures! Everyone should do it at least once to observe what would otherwise be obscured from view. Otherwise we recommend Root Riot starter cubes or a fluffy, well-drained soil. Check out our blog on germinating seeds the way nature intended.

Germinating in wet paper towels vs soil

So I had 20 seeds. I put 10 in wet paper towels, and 10 in moist soil on a heat mat. I planted the 10 when they cracked. The paper towel seeds broke ground first by two days.

These results aren’t conclusive because of two variables I couldn’t accurately measure or control in the soil. Moisture level and temperature. The wet paper towels were more moist and warmer. I believe if those two variables are identical, media doesn’t matter as long as the seeds are in direct contact with it.

Further experiments to come.

  • Join Date: Jul 2015
  • Posts: 3202

Comment

Comment

  • Join Date: Apr 2015
  • Posts: 298

Comment

  • Join Date: Feb 2014
  • Posts: 8369

Comment

Comment

  • Join Date: Feb 2012
  • Posts: 74

Comment

  • Join Date: Aug 2016
  • Posts: 461

Comment

  • Join Date: Aug 2015
  • Posts: 1566

Comment

  • Join Date: Sep 2009
  • Posts: 529

It doesn’t matter.

The paper towel is so you can see that your stuff did actually germinate whereas, in soil, thats hard to verify (pythium is common destroyer of seed that just germed).

I just put them in water at room temperature to reduce the amount of blank cells when doing seed tests as some seed lines have poor germination due to genetic compatibility or sometimes adverse environmental conditions during seed set.

So I had 20 seeds. I put 10 in wet paper towels, and 10 in moist soil on a heat mat. I planted the 10 when they cracked. The paper towel seeds broke ground first by two days.

These results aren’t conclusive because of two variables I couldn’t accurately measure or control in the soil. Moisture level and temperature. The wet paper towels were more moist and warmer. I believe if those two variables are identical, media doesn’t matter as long as the seeds are in direct contact with it.

Seed turned black

My 2 cents.
If they are black black give them a squeeze. If they are hard, give it a try. If mushy, time to start new ones.
An overnite soak is a great indicator of seed viability. If it does not sink, it is most likely dead.
I always use paper towel and then place my sprouts in go cups. I put damp paper towel on a plate and place in a large ziplock bag. This time of year I have to sit them on a heat mat (dry out fast be careful), they just wont sprout without it. Not even the top of the fridge. My house is just too cold I think.
Planting straight in dirt, They seem to pop slower, I find seeds go too shallow in the cup and watering can displace them. They can move to the side or surface, but if they have a bit of a tap root they will stay in place.
In past summers, if I start 6 seeds in solo cups. 4 may pop. Dig thru other 2 cups and usually cant even find the other seeds. Can be frustrating.
Vegetable seeds go straight in dirt. Most pot seeds are too dear to me to take the chance.
stays in place.

one of the towels dried out too much on heatmat and slowed these three C99s, but constant 100% germination. 2 days usaully does it.

Aug. Timewarp 6/6, C99 Timewarp 6/6, C99s plus 3 above 6/6. Spring is a comin.
cuttings at back are pretty fresh and look a bit sickly. They do that. Not to worry.